The upcoming girls basketball season for Cass County teams has already taken a major hit.
Two of the best players — Logansport’s Elle Deardorff and Pioneer’s Ashlynn Brooke — have suffered torn ACL injuries this offseason.
The good news is there is a good chance both will return to the court before the end of the season. But neither will start the season in early November on the court.
Here are more details regarding their situations:
The rising Logansport senior suffered her injury on May 25, the first weekend after her softball season for LHS had just ended.
The Lady Berries have asked Deardorff to do a lot thus far during her career. The 5-foot-4 combo guard has delivered, having already scored 773 career points and made over two 3-pointers per game for her career. She is coming off a junior season in which she averaged 15.0 points, 4.7 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game.
She suffered her torn ACL in an summer offseason game. She said she had surgery June 12.
“I was going on a fastbreak and I jumped to take a shot and my knee just totally gave out when I jump stopped. No one touched me or anything,” she said.
At first it was feared her injury was more severe than it turned out being.
“The first thing I heard I’d be out a year, but I got much better news,” she said. “The doctors are telling me now that I’ll be back for at least half the season, late in December. I’m hoping to be back earlier than that. I won’t be 100 percent but I can get in games then."
Sectionals for girls basketball are held right around the start of February.
“They said by sectional time I’ll be 100 percent," Deardorff said.
A torn ACL diagnosis is not as bad as it once was.
“They’ve gotten a lot more advanced,” said Deardorff, who added it is still a serious knee injury.
“It's pretty major,” she said of having to go through the surgery and now rehab.
Deardorff said she currently has an offer to play at NCAA Division-III Knox College in Illinois and plans to play basketball in college.
The Berries are coming off a 10-13 season, their first double-digit win season since 2014. But they’ll have to replace double-digit scorers Taylor Pasquale and Taru Kurunsaari and now won’t have Deardorff at the start of the season.
“They’re projecting her return to contact to be Christmas Break, so, we’re optimistic that she’ll get to play the last part of her senior season,” Logan coach Meranda Cooper said. “She has a lot of support. The doctors that she is working with are top notch.”
Brooke gained attention earlier this summer when she picked up her first Division-I offer from Detroit Mercy before she even played her first high school game.
But Pioneer fans who were looking forward to watching her first game in early November will now have to wait a little bit longer.
Brooke suffered her torn ACL playing in an EYBL game on Sunday, July 7. She has her surgery scheduled for Tuesday, July 16.
“I had a game earlier that morning at 8,” Brooke recalled. “We played again at 3:30. I was warming up and was really excited. On the first possession of the game for my team the ball got swung to me on the right side wing. I jabbed right and went left and blew by my defender and went in for a left-handed layup and came down awkward and it popped.”
Being an incoming freshman, Brooke has youth on her side. She hopes to be able to return before the end of the season.
The Lady Panthers are coming off their best season in 38 years, a 16-7 season in which they won Cass County and sectional titles. With Brooke coming into the mix, they were hoping to make a deeper run in the tournament.
The good news is that is still a possibility.
“I’m not going to play volleyball at all. I’ll be back to play basketball. I should be going fully at things definitely by sectional time,” Brooke said. “I’ll get to play before that but won’t be fully recovered.”
The Panthers will return several key contributors, including All-Loganland second teamer Hailey Cripe and third teamer Olivia Brooke, Ashlynn’s older sister.
“I think we should be pretty good,” Ashlynn said. “We should be really fast. We get it up the floor. We already played together this summer and when you watch us play, we’re really fast. Olivia gets it out to me and I throw it up to Cripe. We either score or she kicks it back out and we score.”
Ashlynn added she was working out with former Logansport, Iowa and Butler star Whitney Jennings this summer and that she had more showcase tournaments scheduled this month before she suffered her injury.
“Whitney and I are really close. I worked out with her over the summer and was planning to work out with her more before I tore my ACL,” she said. “She’s partly why I wear No. 15.”
Pioneer coach Jeff Brooke, who is Ashlynn’s father, is looking for her to make a complete recovery. It is said that a key part of rehab for such injuries for basketball players is playing in games, and Jeff Brooke is hoping that will be the case this upcoming winter for his daughter.
“You hate that to happen but she is young. We’re told her body will recover for the long road ahead. She’s a determined young lady and not afraid of hard work,” he said. “She’s not afraid to work hard and that’s evident by what she’s done the last couple years in the game. You hate that has to happen before she even starts her high school career.
“They’re very hopeful. They said they could get a good judgment the first three or four weeks after surgery for the 2019-20 basketball season. Six months will be after Christmas. So we’re kind of shooting for her to return after Christmas Break.”
Ashlynn was splitting time with the junior varsity and varsity volleyball teams this summer but will miss her freshman season of volleyball. She was the county champion in the 100- and 200-meter dashes in junior high track this spring.
She stands at 5-foot-6 and might grow more.
“The MRI showed her growth plates are still open. She could gain more height over the next two or three years,” Jeff Brooke said.
Senior guard Mikenna Landis suffered a torn ACL in the sectional championship game which may have cost the Panthers a regional semifinal win last winter. Landis also missed the state championship softball game in which the Panthers finished as state runner-up this spring.
Emotions around the Pioneer program are sad but optimistic.
“She was so excited to start her high school career. That’s the biggest thing she’s disappointed in. She’s got to wait a little longer," Jeff Brooke said. "God has a plan for her and we’re going to look and depend on that plan for her as He reveals it to us.”
For Pioneer, the motto of the 2019-20 girls basketball season could be the same for all sports this upcoming school year.
“Don’t count us out,” Jeff Brooke said.